The summer holidays can be so expensive and as we approach the half way point (keep going ladies), most purse strings are starting to feel a bit tight!

My kids love being outdoors, and leaping around on activities that often can be costly for a family of four.  So I spend a fair bit of time trying to find free activities to keep the fun level high without breaking the bank.

Going on a fairy hunt.

Don’t tell any of their friends, but my older twins still like leaping around the woods looking for evidence of fairies.  They credit their enthusiam on helping the little one find fairy gardens, houses and tea parties, but I know they still love it.

It is easy, grab a pen and pencil and head to your nearest wood and look for fairies.  They are real.

fairy house

Image courtsey of Shutterstock

Little nooks and crannies in tree trunks are where these special creatures live, disused acorns are their boats for crossing puddles when their wings are wet, broken egg shells are their play areas, and flowers their umbrellas.  All you need is imagination.

Libby - sue  Free activities

Finding a fairy!

Draw and write their ideas and take a picnic and you have a full day out without spending a penny.

Food Fun.

This is one of my kids favourite, although be warned – it destroys your kitchen!

Let them loose on your left over ingredients in the cupboard and allow them to create their own treats.

Don’t expect them to be edible – but do expect lots of giggles and mess!

We have successfully made rock hard buns, and marshmellow mayhem.

Set up a beauty salon

Grab your old make up and polishes and get the kids to give each other makeovers – you can even be a customer at the salon (have plenty of polish remover and wipes!).

Get ready to see an 80’s comeback in your living room.

(Probably won’t look like the image – but one can hope!)

Free Activities

Go Camping (at home)

You have heard of a staycation?  Well, this one comes with a room to stay in.  Kids love camping with home comforts, so get the tent out, pump up their airbeds and let them play house.  We stack teddies on ours, eat picnics on the grass and sleep under the stars.  All with the option of coming back inside if we get chilly!

camping Libby free activity

The Water Park,

I won’t lie – this is my least favourite, and the kids most favourite.

Set them the task of turning your garden into a water park and let them run wild.  Obstacle courses through the sprinkler, hose-pipe down the slide, potions in the paddling pool.

It is chaos, wet, washing hell, but they love it!

And it doesnt cost a penny!!!

(Unless you need therapy in later years to cope with the flashbacks!)

 

Any more ideas – let me know!

 

We have just enjoyed ten beautiful days in the Cornish seaside.  We stayed at the lovely Trevella Park, glamping (because I simply don’t do camping), and managed to stick to budget and not flutter away a fortune.

Here’s how….
1.  Book early: we booked our trip to Trevella last September and were able to book at 2012 prices.  Plus spreading the cost out over ten months made it feel easier on the purse strings.

2.  Do a big shop, Trevella has a Morrisons around the corner which I sent the other half to as soon as we arrived.  We bought own brand bacon, sausage, eggs and a ton of bbq food, plus everything needed for ten days worth of picnics.  We then bought the basics from the reasonably priced shop on site.

3. Hit the beach!  Building sandcastles, playing french cricket and reading on the sand are all free.  Plus the kids will love it, whether it is raining or if the sun has graced you with its presence.

4. Spend a day on the campsite.  Trevella has a pool (heated), mini golf (30p per person), an adventure park and a playground.  Plus a whole host of ranger sessions where you can join Trevellas very own ranger – Wayne – and learn more about the nature surrounding the park.

5. Go crabbing in Crantock.  You will have to buy a crabbing net, a bucket, and the magic ingredient (bacon) but you can have hours of fun hunting for crabs in the rock pools and the sea.

6. Take on the waves, cornwall is reknown for its surfing, but being younger and softer we stuck to body boarding.

7. Learn to fish: Trevella Park has two stunning fishing lakes and you can hire the equipment.  You can relax by the lake, dangling bait in the water and hope like hell you get a bite.

8. Start a cricket tournament on site.  Trevella has an abundance of space which can be used for football, picnics and of course cricket.  My brood set up a game one evening and were shortly joined by no less than 20 other kids all wanting to join in.  Hours of fun that didn’t cost a penny.

9. Get to know nature.  Trevella has an awesome nature trail and you can take part in the I-Spy nature challenge.  Fab to keep the kids entertained and to help them learn more about the planet.

We reviewed Trevella Park in 2012 and were so impressed that we booked to return as soon as we returned.  I can highly recomend it as a beautiful place to stay and a great base to explore Cornwall without breaking the bank.

My quest to live a thrifty life is not always successful, as proven by my recent shopping spree on the high street.  However, we have tried to put our big expenses in order.  Heating our home and running the electricity are two areas where we are always looking for better deals, but it can be a minefield of information which can be overwhelming when you start comparing different tariffs and providers.

Hence why I was excited to hear about a new energy switching app that is reputed to make all of the above easier.  It is the brainchild of price comparison site, compare the market, aimed at helping the modern-day household reduce their energy bills.

We were sent an Ipad mini to test out the Snapt app and quickly put this clever feature to the test.

It is a simple process (even for the technically challenged like myself).

First….

Download the Snapt app from iTunes : Hardness Rating – Easy.

Find where you filed your most recent Gas and Electricity Bill : Hardness Rating – Extremely hard for me, who has a complicated filing system – I understand normal, rational people find this bit easier.

Open up the Snapt apt and using on-screen instructions take a photo of each page of your bill : Hardness Rating – Easy Peasey.

Press send and send your bill to the team at Snapt and make a cup of tea whilst they do the hard work : Hardness Rating – Childsplay

The results are typically sent within ten minutes and I nearly dropped my drink when mine arrived.  Snapt discovered it could save us as much as £460 a year of our energy bills.  Can you imagine the shopping spree I could go on with that!

Snapt emailed a concise list of local suppliers with a listing of how much we could save and details of the tariff.  It has made the daunting prospect of changing suppliers incredibly easy.  All I need to do now is confirm which supplier I want to move to and Snapt will do the hard work.

What technology can do nowadays never fails to amaze me, and inventions like Snapt only confirm that wonder in me.  It is so simple, so user-friendly that even the kids could use it.  And all it does is save you money!

If you want to know more details on how Snapt works check out this video.

Disclosure: We were sent an iPad mini to review Snapt – all opinions remain my own

ts fluffy time at mine at the moment, well fluffy with a layer of dust. I have promised my children to play more and clean less, after week one I can report back successfully. In fact I have not raised my voice in anger towards any of my three, yes three children in six days! As Molly pointed out last night; dragon mummy has gone on her holidays and fun mummy has come to stay.

However I am keeping all activites cost free!

P1050517

So when Owen deliberately ran off with horse riding Barbie on Monday causing Libby to explode into Niagara Falls style tears I managed to contain my frustration and instead we had a conversation about stealing and used Oliver Twist as a useful frame of reference. (Hidden message being – do it again and you will be sharing a bunk with the artful dodger under Mr Bumbles watch.)

On Tuesday when Libby asked to play with play doh, instead of feigning deafness I swiftly suppressed the blood curdling shriek rising in my throat and together we made all manner of models. If I am honest I am growing to love the patchwork effect on my cream carpet and it keeps the cats amused for hours licking play doh out of their claws.

BB

I’ve ignored Facebook, not had my usual Friday night at the online casino, not picked up a book. Instead we have watched Home Alone for the thirteenth thousanth time, played board game after board game and been on family strolls. Me time has gone out of the window as I focus on simply being a calm, quiet mum.

The bets are against me succeeding with this…..

When all refused to eat my beautiful home made spag bol on ‘why, mummy, wednesday’ I merely forced a grin and scooped it into the bin whilst simultaneously making a round of cheese butties and inventing a new child rearing phenomena ‘school age children-led weaning’. Book to follow shortly but should you wish to attempt before reading stock up heavily on fish fingers, co co pops, and lemonade.

Now as the week has gone on I have become more exceedingly tired, not shouting requires much more energy than a good screech, plus you use your facial muscles a lot more trying to control your voice to a cheery, irritating loving level. I am also training for a Crossfit competition and now whilst the children sleep I have to clean up the debris that three short people and one furry four legged thing leave behind. Yet with all this in mind on Thursday I still faced one of my deepest fears and allowed the children to paint. Supervised they behaved impeccably, only painting themselves and their wooden birdhouses. However Libby-Sue needed a bath and her bed was calling so I had to, I had to leave them alone.

Libby painting

All seemed fine, bb was just finishing up her milk and I was about to pop the lid on and put it back in the fridge when I heard; “mummy I’ve finished; let me show you.”

Now I was upstairs, dragon mummy would have just yelled “no you fool, stay where you are don’t bring the paint covered bird house up to me”. But no, I don’t shout, instead I ‘called out’. “Honey please don’t….”

Too late

“What mummy I can’t hear you”

Oh the irony, followed by trip, crash, bang,

And then tiny thuds as a freshly painted wooden birdhouse tiptoed down my stairs leaving a rainbow behind.

To my credit I did not yell like a banshee, but as I surveyed my carpet I inwardly muttered every swear word I know, yes even that really naughty one, twice.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how not to shout at your kids and how to extend your vocabulary.